May. 28th, 2009

juushika: Screen capture of the Farplane from Final Fantasy X: a surreal landscape of waterfalls and flowers. (Anime/Game)
Three times the evil queen comes to kill Snow White. Perhaps a corset, or a ribbon, to crush or strangle her. Perhaps a comb, to poison her. Each time Snow White dies, each time she is revived. Then the evil queen comes with a poisoned apple (or flowers, or cake, or wine, or pomegranate, or letter...), and again Snow White takes it from her, and this time she cannot be revived.

Perhaps she's been warned by the dwarfs, or miners, or monks that protect her; she has been warned by experience. This has happened once, twice before. She had no reason to trust the old woman, the peddler, her (step-)mother.

So why does Snow White take the apple?

I ask because I'm reading Tanith Lee's White as Snow and Terri Windling's introduction deals briefly with the issue of why Snow White so foolishly accepts that apple. Perhaps, Windling posits, she is like every (abused) child that has ever (unwisely) wished for a parent's love (this is along the lines of what happens in White as Snow), quoting:
Of course I took her poisoned gifts. I wanted to feel her hands coming out of my hair, to let her lace me up, to take an apple from her hand, a smile from her lips, as when I was a child.
—"From Snow White to the Prince," Delia Sherman.

Which strikes me as quite reasonable though, personally, I myself am fond of the idea that it is bravery:
Why did I let her in? Didn't I know she was bad? I did. Of course I did. But I also knew that I couldn't keep the door closed all my life just because it was dangerous. Just because there was a chance that I might get hurt.
The 10th Kingdom

Which appeals to me in part because it is productive, not reactive: To live, despite the fact that life is dangerous. And it appeals also because it works so well in The 10th Kingdom, where Virgina's life mirrors parts of Snow White's and she must learn to risk living in order to succeed. Meanwhile I've yet to see or read a Snow White (re)telling where her desire for a mother's love is a wholly convincing motivator towards her semi-death—White as Snow was close but didn't quite manage it; perhaps my luck will change as I read more retellings.

Or perhaps pure trickery. In their poisoning, they are also bewitched to be "beyond any doubt, the most wonderful apples in the world" and so, desirous and magicked, Snow White takes a bite:
They smelled like fresh apples, of course; and they also smelled of blood. And she was hungry. I imagine her picking up an apple, pressing it against her cheek, feeling the cold smoothness of it against her skin.

And she opened her mouth and bit deep into it...
—"Snow, Glass, Apples," Neil Gaiman



Which works, but is somehow unfulfilling. In order to compensate for Snow White's foolish action in the face of warning and experience, it strips her of autonomy. When blinded, mystified, tricked into one of the most important actions of her life, Snow White is purely a victim and no longer a compelling character. (Although it leave plenty of room for the evil queen to be active and fascinating, which is why it works in "Snow, Glass, Apples.")

So what do you think? Why does Snow White accept the poisoned apple? Love, bravery, trickery? Something else? What explanation have you seen, or read, or thought of that convinces you?

Suggestions from others:
  • Edenic: "of course she takes the fruit, because she's a woman and therefore is Eve and therefore is a dumbass when it come to taking fruit from evil things." [livejournal.com profile] tabular_rasa

  • Surrendering to fate: "if you want to take a more medieval stance, placing her life in the hands of fate/divinity willingly and consciously (i.e. trial by combat)." [livejournal.com profile] lareinenoire

  • Naivety, passivity, foolishness: "She's just a naive doll so of course she is going to do what the actual actors in the story suggest." [livejournal.com profile] lodessa

  • A desire to see the best in people: "they said snow white was pure as snow and anyone that pure could never see evil in others because she's never felt it herself." [livejournal.com profile] delicatetruth

  • The follies of youth: "The issue of Snow's actual age is a point of contention as well. The Grimm's explicitly refer to her as being seven years old when the story starts, and while there's no firm indication of how much time has passed, it's no more than a couple of years." [livejournal.com profile] vaga42bond [Link]




Discussions like this make me love my flist.

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